The embalming dark

Dream diary extract 13.11.13

Iris Priest

In the embalming dark, heavy with sleep, I gradually become aware of a movement which is not my own. Has the house developed a tide? Is it my brain rolling about in my skull? Gradually I realise that this soft, rhythmic motion is the bed itself. The bed - which is not a bed at all but a warm, soft, breathing stone - is silently inhaling and exhaling.

Bed rock, heart spring.

I am afraid to leave the room because I know that the corridor outside, could - upon opening my bedroom door and it deciding in its own incalculable way - become one of any thousand corridors I have been down in my life. I do not know what will be behind the door of the next room along; a friend, a wild animal, a cliff edge...

Outside, the boys are wrestling in the dark. It is so dark and rain sodden that I constantly slip over on the wooden decking. Eventually I give up and sit with my back against a crumpled grotto wall. Through the windows of the vernacular wooden house behind us (which I have always envied) comes a warm, amber glow. It makes my heart dimly ache. But quite suddenly, without any other change or sign, a column of thick grey smoke gushes from the house's turreted roof. Charred lumps of dust float down on the air and then, with a huge, heaving sigh, lumps of molten lava begin to spew out into the night. I am screaming at the boys and the other people I know to be in the dark and we start running and scrambling through dewy grotto tunnels towards some remembered safe place.

Iris Priest

Iris Priest is an artist and writer concerned with promoting and nurturing synergies between different disciplines; visual art, writing, philosophy, science, and education. Since graduating from Fine Art at Cumbria Institute of the Arts in 2008 she has worked as a freelance artist, writer and editor in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where she co-founded CANNED Magazine.

Iris has contributed to a number of books including Black Cloud by Ben Jeans Houghton, Chance Finds Us published by MIMA and James Hugonin Binary Rhythm Paintings 2010 - 2015 published by Ingleby Gallery. Her critical writing has been published in a number of journals including a-n, garageland, thisistomorrow and Corridor8. Iris is currently Writer-in-Residence at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.

She says:

"There are many scientific, spiritual and psychoanalytic hypotheses about dreams and dreaming; whether they are an evolutionary mechanism; a means for survival; an internal role play; a glimpse of the universal self; or simply the subconscious filing system for the froth of waking thoughts and experiences. I am interested in dreams both as a phenomenon and as an experience. My dream diary of the last 6 years has been a means for me to document and explore the unseen life of my dreaming self, as a means to reflect on the themes and emotional currents of my waking life and as a source of inspiration for art, writing and other forms of creative expression."

Iris's website.

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The embalming dark © 2017 Iris Priest: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.